Friday, 22 April 2016

Lubrication 101 - Use Something That Doesn't Damage Things ....

More than 12 years back we were shown just how incredibly slippery McLube Sailkote dry lubricant spray really is. However the spray can doesn't detail the contents, and we didn't want to use anything with silicon on a painted deck, so we chased down the manufacturer for details.

Eventually, in a late night call from Australia, I spoke to an engineer in the USA, who explained that the contents were actually chemically milled, microscopic teflon ball bearings, floating in a propellant that evaporates completely.  When you spray on McLube Sailkote, the micro ball bearings stick to the surface using static charge only - sure they eventually get washed away, but they last long enough to be amazingly beneficial.  The great thing is that they don't gum up the works - ever.  There is no build up of wax or chemical gunk to attract salt, moisture and dirt.

Looks Pretty, But It Doesn't Roll Anymore
On Crystal Blues this means we spray-lube the mainsail track once or twice a year, and Ley can hand haul the mainsail almost to the top without even using a winch. It is amazing stuff.

We also used it on our Schaefer "Clear-Step" sheaves, that manage the furling lines on deck.

Around five or six years later the Schaefer sheaves started to jam up, and no amount of cleaning or lubrication would get them to work under load.  I could spin them easily, though they sounded a little noisy - it was a mystery that even Schaefer themselves could not solve. This lead to us replacing them with an alternate product here in Cape Town, at reasonable expense to our boat budget (and that's another story).

Here in Cape Town we spotted a new McLube product called One Drop on the shelves of the distributor.  The technical representative there explained that the new One Drop liquid product was for "things that turned, including any product that used ball bearing races". The older spray product, he said, was specifically for things that slide.

He went on to explain that the original SailKote spray is just so extremely slippery that it can cause problems in ball bearing systems - the ball bearings actually skid along the surface, instead of rotating as they should (!).  This can lead to flat spots and failure of the ball bearing system.

Suddenly, we know what had happened to all our older Schaefer sheaves - all that fresh water washing and lubing with SailKote had actually created flat spots on the ball bearings.  We can see why the new McLube One Drop liquid product was developed - they needed a product that worked with ball bearing races.

We'll continue to use SailKote spray on our mainsail track, as the Antal track uses carbon faced fiber slides, rather than ball bearings.  But our turning blocks will all receive the One Drop treatment from now on.  Sailkote is ONLY for things that slide...

1 comment:

Daria Blackwell said...

Thanks for this. We love SailKote and will now look for OneDrop. Great explanation. Very useful to know.